General Sports: May 7

So before I get into General Sports, I just want to say that my blogs will likely be a little more inconsistent. As I mentioned a little while back, my family got a new puppy. I finally got a chance to meet her and while she is an absolute angel, she’s still a baby and is going to need a lot of attention. So I’ll not only be having to take care of her, but also returning to work at the liquor store, which I resume on Thursday. So for a while I might struggle to post everyday. With that said, let’s get to General Sports.

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-Gleyber Torres is off to quite the start to his big league career. The former top prospect in all of baseball, Torres was acquired by the Yankees as a minor leaguer and the centerpiece of the Aroldis Chapman trade with the Cubs in 2016. Torres missed most of 2017 after undergoing Tommy John midseason but was able to return healthy enough to participate in Spring Training. He began the season in the Minor Leagues and was called up on April 22. Since then, he’s hit .327 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI. In fact, that second home run is the one that enticed me to give an update on him since it was a walkoff shot against the Indians. Here it is below.

The kid’s got a good-looking compact swing that looks very well controlled and he’s got pretty good size for a second baseman at 6’1 200 pounds. Second base has been an issue for the Yankees since letting Robinson Cano walk in free agency prior to the 2014 season as they haven’t been able to consistently get a consistent contributor at the position. Starlin Castro was solid but you never got the sense that he was going to be the guy for the next 5 years. Torres has the talent to be a fixture at the top of this dangerous Yankees lineup for the next ten years.

-Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is going to miss a month for groin surgery after taking a foul tip to the nuts. Now, of course, being a catcher, he was wearing a cup. I just wanted to type that. But apparently he felt something was off and was diagnosed with a “pelvic injury with traumatic hematoma.” I’m not quite sure what that means, so I’m just going to say that Yadi got hit so hard in the balls that he’s out a month. Molina is 35 years old but was putting up a decent line of .274/.292/.456. Not MVP numbers by any stretch but solid for a catcher of his age. The injury has one positive note to it, though. The Cardinals will get a chance to give one of their top prospects, Carson Kelly, a shot to see if he has what it takes to be Molina’s successor. But Molina is going to be a tough guy to replace as it doesn’t get much better behind the plate or with handling a pitching staff. Currently the Cardinals are sitting atop the NL Central Standings and if Kelly struggles too much, they might lose their grip on the division and could fall too far behind the Cubs and Brewers, who can get hot at any moment.

-There may be more trouble in Seattle brewing. The Seahawks lost both of their starting pass rushers in Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril along with their superstar corner Richard Sherman this offseason. Now it looks like Earl Thomas may hold out for a new contract. He hasn’t been attending voluntary workouts and Pete Carroll admitted he has no idea when Thomas is going to report. Thomas’ contract is up at the end of the season so the desire for a new deal appears to be the motivating factor. Now in all fairness, Thomas isn’t breaking any team rules at the moment, as mandatory workouts don’t begin until June. However anytime a player entering a contract year isn’t attending certain team workouts it becomes worrisome for the player’s current employer. So for now I will say for any Seahawks fans out there, I wouldn’t be too concerned yet. However if he’s not showing up to OTA’s, then there may be cause for concern. Just something to keep an eye on during this NFL offseason.

-Clayton Kershaw is hitting the DL with a bicep tendinitis in his pitching arm. It’s only the 10-day DL so perhaps he’ll only have to miss a start or two. However this makes back-to-back seasons where Kershaw has dealt with injuries. Kershaw is pitching below his LOFTY standards this season, but below standards for Kershaw is still an All Star-caliber season, as he’s currently carrying a 2.86 ERA and striking out over 9 batters per 9. But considering his career ERA is 2.37 (which is absurd) and his career K/9 is around 10, could that suggest that Kershaw is heading towards a bit of regression in his age-30 season? Perhaps. We’ll have to see how he recovers from the injury.

That’s going to do it for this edition of General Sports. Let me know what you think of the topics discussed in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

The Martellus Bennett situation is a little…odd

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Martellus Bennet’s falling out in Green Bay has a lot of people scratching their heads (photo credit: Madison.com)

It was reported earlier last week that the Green Bay Packers had waived prize free agent tight end Martellus Bennett, which seemed to come out of nowhere at the time. Bennett had signed a 3-year $21 million deal with the Packers shortly after winning a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots, where he was an integral part of their success, especially after the team lost Rob Gronkowski for the season midway through the year. He hadn’t been having the same success this season as in years past, as prior to being waived by Green Bay he only had 21 catches for 195 yards in 7 games played, failing to score a single touchdown. Bennett also announced over an Instagram story that he was probably going to retire at the conclusion of this season. When Bennett was waived, the Packers cited “failure to disclose” as their reasoning because it turns out that Bennett’s rotator cuff required surgery. Shortly after, Bennett explained on another Instagram story that he had been having issues with his shoulder for a while, which came to a head in the Packers’ October 8th win over the Dallas Cowboys (which was actually his highest yardage output all season at 53 yards). Bennett claimed that Packers team physician Dr. Patrick McKenzie was pressuring him to play through the shoulder injury, something Bennett was wary of doing. He then said the Packers tried to “fuck (him) over” and tried to get out of his contract by waiving him because of the injury. He was then claimed by the Patriots and played in Sunday night’s game against the Denver Broncos, not even a week after his release. So what gives?

Bennett has never struck me as the type of guy who would fake an injury to get off a team. Quite the opposite. He’s a very moral dude who writes children’s books and is a big advocate for players using their platforms as professional athletes to do some good in the world. He’s been one of Colin Kaepernick’s most outspoken supporters and, from what I hear from teammates, is a pretty stand-up guy. But you have to admit, this does sound strange. As a Patriots fan, I am very excited to have Martysaurus Rex (that’s his Twitter handle, not a nickname I’m trying to invent) back on the team. He’s a world class tight end who was an integral part of the team’s championship run last season. Ignore his stats on the Packers, tight ends have never done great under Mike McCarthy, just look at the uber-talented JerMichael Finley, who was about as gifted a tight end as I have ever seen (short of Gronk) but never seemed to put it all together. Or Bubba Franks, who was a pro bowler before McCarthy and Rodgers got there and fizzled hard after their arrival. He can still contribute, and he had 3 catches for 38 yards in the Patriots 41-16 win over the Broncos.

But I still find it odd that this guy is playing for the Patriots right now after it was speculated that his season (and possibly career) was likely done. Hell, Dr. McKenzie, whom Bennett said was pressuring him to play through the injury, has a reputation for being overly cautious about letting players return from injury, often to the point of resentment from the players. Everyone in the Packers’ organization came to the defense of Dr. McKenzie after Bennett’s Instagram story, such as Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson. Rodgers has had several injuries in his career and is currently nursing a broken collarbone and Jordy Nelson missed an entire season to a torn ACL a couple of years ago and both of these guys deny that Dr. McKenzie ever tried rushing them back. A lot of conspiracy theorists believe that Bennett and Patriots coach Bill Belichick colluded to get him back to Foxboro and if you didn’t know Bennett’s character, this would seem very possible, if not entirely probable. I’m not going to sit here and say I know Marty, all I really know about his character is through following him on social media and from what I hear from people who do know him. But if this is the case, some repercussions will be coming New England’s way.

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Bennett was back contributing for the Patriots mere days after it was thought his career might be over (photo credit: USA Today)

The penalty for tampering, which is what this situation is, typically comes at the price of a mid-round draft pick and/or a fine. When the Jets were found guilty of tampering to sign Darrelle Revis away from the Patriots after the 2014 season, their punishment was a $100,000 fine. When the Chiefs were found guilty of tampering to sign Jeremy Maclin away from the Eagles in the 2016 offseason, their punishment was the loss of a third round pick in 2016 and a sixth rounder in 2017. Fines were also handed out to the Chiefs ($250,000), head coach Andy Reid ($75,000) and GM John Dorsey ($25,000). Not very consistent in their punishments, but that’s Roger Goodell’s NFL for you. The league has said they are not investigating the Bennett situation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if other owners try and force their hand. So if they do change their minds and find the Patriots guilty of tampering with Bennett, then I have to imagine the penalty will be on the severe side like it was with Kansas City, given the Patriots’ history of issues with the league (whether they were warranted or not).

So what do I think happened? I would find it surprising if Bennett actively forced his way out of Green Bay because that’s just not the type of person he is. However I do admit that there may be some elements of this story that haven’t been made public because this whole thing sounds rather suspect. It would be a real slimy move on Bennett’s part if he did fake an injury in order to get himself out of Green Bay to play for a Super Bowl contender in the Patriots, which the Packers no longer are after losing Rodgers for the season. Quite frankly, I don’t think we’ve heard the end of this saga.